Saturday, 30 August 2008

The Collector

It’s no secret that I like books. In fact, I like books much more than I like reading them. Sure it’s kinda odd to spend so much money on things you never open. But at least my kids (or whoever is unlucky enough to look after my estate) might be able to make some money out of my little collection.

So it should come as no surprise that, last week, I made my usual pilgrimages to Browsers in Hamilton and to Parsons in Auckland. And I spent some money. And I discovered that Parsons have sold five of the six books of mine they had – with the sixth one on hold. But I wanna know who bought them ... and why.

Jodi was kind enough to take me to a second-hand bookshop in Tauranga too. I made her by Robin Morrison’s Sense of Place. Naturally I bought some books there too.

The most exciting find was the long sought after The New Color Photography for a lot less than I expected to pay for it.

No good home should be without the three volume 1966 An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, and now, thanks to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (three Indian typists and $20,000) no good home need be without it, and you can still find the book version around too.

When I got home I went shopping again, and ended up with this lot. I bought the Samuel Butler cos I really liked the cover. It’s one of those books I’ve long meant to read and now I have my own copy I may get around to it one day.

And then yesterday this turned up in the post box. Cool. Thanks Auckland University Press.

This is due out on September 10. With any luck I’ll have the review done by then.

Speaking of reviews, this one has turned up. And David pointed out the nice comments on this review from ages ago. I haven’t responded but have written this.

Thank you Linda and Matt for your comments.

I would like to point out that
1) I do not purport to be an art expert, merely someone very interested in art.
2) I have never suggested that a review is a 'serious critique'.
3) I have never been to art school.

Reviewing is about OPINIONS, and are written so that others may get an IDEA of what the publication/movie/album/show/etc. is like. The reader does not have to agree with the reviewer. The reader can actually form their own OPINION.

It is called “reviewing” because it involves someone offering their own view after having read/seen/heard what they are reviewing. It should not be confused with previewing which involves someone offering their own view generally prior to actually having read/seen/heard what they are previewing.

If reviewing was supposed to be serious critiquing it would be called a critique. I do find it ironic that you dismiss my review by stating that “[o]ne cannot seriously critique a work on their own personal likes and dislikes”, when the lack of objective critiquing of Buchanan’s work was my main problem with the book. And, I suspect, you are doing the exactly the same – basing your view of the book and this review on your own taste, not an objective critique.

I also find it interesting that you are happy to attack me, but make no attempt to argue against the statements/points in my review where I express the failings of this publication. I stated up front that I did not like his art but that didn't stop me attempting to write a balanced piece about the book, as I believe I have done with all of the reviews I have written.

You ask “what has the creator of the work set out to do?, and, How well have they achieved that aim?” Well, I thought I made it quite clear that I found the book clumsy and confused and I couldn't work out exactly what they had set out to do. Therefore they failed.

Can I ask this? What is the point of a book about an artist which doesn't examine the artist's work, that doesn’t explain why they produce the work they do, or talk about more than the surface imagery? Why, when so much of the text is biographical detail, does it miss out a large chunk of Buchanan's life and career as an artist? If this is an attempt at an artist survey why are the works not properly captioned to allow the reader some sense of the artist’s evolution?

I stand by everything in my review, maybe if you re-read it you'll see that I explained my disappointments and was actually hoping to be swayed in my view of Buchanan arts. The fact that I wasn't, I feel, reflects more on the book than it does on me.

It seems churlish to say this, but not everyone has to like the same things, people can legitimately hold differing views. The fact that you disagree with me is your prerogative, but why attack me? Why not attack my message? Clearly you hold a different view to me, yet you make no attempt at argument, resorting to mere invective which really isn’t worthy of this response.

Not sure if I’ll post it there or not. Not sure they’re worth it. But it feels good to write a nicely reasoned ‘up yours’.

So not only am I a collector of books and rejection letters, I am also a collector of online abuse. I am just like so 21st Century, dude.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The Do

My brief roadtrip is over. But I have souvenirs. No cheque for $15,000, but souvenirs. Like this.

And a newspaper clipping from Saturday's Waikato Times. If you have to lose, it's better to lose to work you like.

And some photos. For added proof that I was there.

And one by David of the artist nonchalantly leaning next to his work, exposing his beergut (which is odd considering how little beer he has drunk of late).

I truly appreciate the fact that only one of you commented on my previous post offering congratulations, and that none of you have told me how brilliant I am. Thanks.

There are a couple of TWNCAA related things online at Photoforum (thanks for stealing my image Abby!!), John Hurrell, NZLive, and its own blog (which doesn't seem to be going anywhere).

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Straitjacket

I'm off to Hamilton tomorrow.

For the opening of the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award 2008.

I am one of 30 finalists. In with a chance of winning stuff. Or at least having one or two new people see my work.

It's very exciting. I'd like to invite you to the opening but I can't. It's very exclusive. The show is on until 30 November so you all have a chance of seeing it if you start planning your trip now.

Here's my piece. It's called some came on time, some took a while.

Natasha Conland, the judge, says about it (and the other work she selected):
It shouldn’t be a surprise that this year’s finalists have thrown up some strong contenders in the areas of painting and photography. As diverse as they are to one another, these works articulate an ongoing interest in wall-based image making. Even when the primary motivation is a performative action, a relationship with location or an object, the idea has been resolved on the wall, in the now-neutral format of picture making.
Here's a close up of the little specks of white bottom right.

That's what makes it Art.

That and the complete lack of focus and sharpness.

And that it's printed really big.

I had to create my own font in order to make this image. That's dedication! For a limited time you can download the fonts for free. Cos I know you all want to be able to pretend you write like me.

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Message

Every now and then, well once, I take a camera to work with me and shoot stuff on the way to and from work.

I shot these on the way from. They weren't what I set out to shot, but I decided to take a different route home. A muddy one as it turned out.

All hand-held multi-second exposures. Tripods are for wimps!!

For the past week I've had a friend staying, and I should probably advertise his show so ....
    You are invited to the opening of Mixed Messages, an exhibition & installation by Hong Kong-based arist David Boyce. The opening is 5pm to 7pm, Thursday 21st August. David will attend.

    Mixed Messages runs until 15th September.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Things

The stupid things we do for the sake of Art.

Like last Saturday for example. I was having one of those days which just felt productive, doing bits and pieces around the house that needed to be done. Looking out the window I noticed the weather, while changeable, was looking pretty good. Cool, I thought, I can take off and get me some photos – be extra productive

So, after finishing what I was doing, I sorted out the camera (just one this time), layered up, threw the bike in the car and headed to Eastbourne. It was cold (hence the layering) and there was a howling southerly, but I was happy enough to be riding into it knowing I would have an awesome tail wind on the home stretch.

So I headed off, and fairly early on, as expected, got rained on by a passing shower. As I neared my destination – a very exposed bay open to everything the southerly could throw at it – it started to rain (I think), very, very stingy rain. I found slight shelter behind a pile of shingle. Sure enough, within seconds, things settled, so I pulled out the camera, jumped over the shingle and started framing up. Just as the rain came again. Hard, blown parallel by the howling wind. And the light dropped a couple of stops.

I rattled off a couple of shots, moved, rattled off some more. Kinda decided I wasn’t getting the angle I wanted so racked up the monopod above head height and pointed the camera in the vague direction of what I wanted and rattled off more shots. Shooting at f5.6 at 1/4sec in this wind felt like a complete a waste of time, but knowing I only had twelve shots to take, and that both me and the camera were wet enough that a little more water wouldn’t hurt I continued shooting. Then the water did actually start to hurt. Really, really hurt. Hail (I think), blown parallel by the howling wind.

I finished, hurriedly packed up, jumped on the bike, and took off. Naturally as I was heading back to the warmth and dryness of the car, the wind died away, and my hoped for tailwind was non-existent. Fortunately there was no headwind either. But there was more rain.

I got back just on 6pm, cold and wet, changed into what dry clothing I had, and hoped the car heater would give me some feeling in my feet again.

What an awesome trip. An hour and a half of all the elements I love – wind, water, sea, adrenalin, ephedrine. It was choice. And of course I have to go back and actually get a decent shot of the place sometime. Oh well.

The stupid things we do for the sake of Art, eh.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Pointless

For no good reason here's a double exposed shot I took at the end of last year. For a project that is now shot, but which is waiting to see the light of day. Because I was slack getting a proposal together to show it and now I'm not sure how worthy it is.

But .... a few months ago I was going to blog this:
Hydrogen is number one
Cos hydrogen is what puts the shine in the sun
Through nuclear fusion and when it’s done
It leaves element number two
Helium… helium is the second lightest gas that there is
So we use it in balloons we give to little kids
Then there’s lithium often used to treat mental problems
Beryllium don’t conduct electric currents, it stops them
Boron can be used to make things harden
And that smoke that’s coming out of your exhaust, carbon
Carbon is arguably the most important element
And nitrogen in the air is almost eighty percent
The rest of the air is mainly oxygen
And fluorine is the lightest of the halogens
OK that’s enough teaching
I ain’t trying to bore ya
I’m just trying to be a positive role model for ya
It's some hiphop rhymes which appealed to me cos I'm a science geek. Sadly it loses a lot in translation from cool UK hiphop vocalisation to the page. But I still like it.

A bit later on in the album, there's this track:
Thou shalt not steal if there is direct victim.
Thou shalt not worship pop idols or follow lost prophets.
Thou shalt not take the names of Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Johnny Hartman, Desmond Decker, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Syd Barret in vain.
Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile… Some people are just nice.
Thou shalt not read NME.
Thall shalt not stop liking a band just because they’ve become popular.
Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry.
Thou shalt not judge a book by it’s cover.
Thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover.
Thall shalt not buy Coca-Cola products.
Thou shalt not buy Nestle products.
Thou shalt not go into the woods with your boyfriend’s best friend, take drugs and cheat on him.
Thou shalt not fall in love so easily.
Thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into girls’ pants.
Use it to get into their heads.
Thou shalt not watch Hollyoakes.
Thou shalt not attend an open mic and leave before it’s done just because you’ve finished your shitty little poem or song you self-righteous prick.
Thou shalt not return to the same club or bar week in, week out just ’cos you once saw a girl there that you fancied but you’re never gonna fucking talk to anyway.

Thou shalt not put musicians and recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are or were.
The Beatles - Were just a band.
Led Zepplin - Just a band.
The Beach Boys - Just a band.
The Sex Pistols - Just a band.
The Clash - Just a band.
Crass - Just a band.
Minor Threat - Just a band.
The Cure - Just a band.
The Smiths - Just a band.
Nirvana - Just a band.
The Pixies - Just a band.
Oasis - Just a band.
Radiohead - Just a band.
Bloc Party - Just a band.
The Arctic Monkeys - Just a band.
The Next Big Thing - JUST A BAND.

Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-english speaking countries as to those that occur in english speaking countries.
Thou shalt remember that guns, bitches and bling were never part of the four elements and never will be.
Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music.
Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music.
Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music.
Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music.

Thou shalt not pimp my ride.
Thou shalt not scream if you wanna go faster.
Thou shalt not move to the sound of the wickedness.
Thou shalt not make some noise for Detroit.
When I say “Hey” thou shalt not say “Ho”.
When I say “Hip” thou shalt not say “Hop”.
When I say, he say, she say, we say, make some noise - kill me.
Thou shalt not quote me happy.
Thou shalt not shake it like a polaroid picture.
Thou shalt not wish your girlfriend was a freak like me.
Thou shalt spell the word “Pheonix” P-H-E-O-N-I-X not P-H-O-E-N-I-X, regardless of what the Oxford English Dictionary tells you.
Thou shalt not express your shock at the fact that Sharon got off with Bradley at the club last night by saying “Is it”.
Thou shalt think for yourselves.

And most importantly of all, thou shalt always ...

Thou shalt always kill.
It's some hiphop rhymes which appealed to me cos I'm a geek. Fortunately it doesn't lose a lot in translation from cool UK hiphop vocalisation to the page. I like the humour, the honesty, the irony - "Thou shalt think for yourselves", hahahaa, that's so funny!

I didn't post either of these at the time cos ... um I didn't. But if I did, I would have demonstrated just how awesome, hip, and on-to-it my musical taste is. Unfortunately, for me, I heard this last track on Radio Active the other day, so now I just sound like a bandwagon jumper, not the the trendspotter I really am. Oh well.

Check them out.

See I told you that pic was there for no good reason.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Spots

There are places around this city that I really like.

That give me a sense of peace.

That give me a sense of belonging.

That give me a sense of enjoyment.

Places that I really like.

These are some of those places.

Again these are from my forgotten series A Poorly Focussed Life.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Viewer

The last couple of weeks I've been trying to ignore the NZ International Film Festival. Much like I've been ignoring this blog. Having an annoying cold for some of the time certainly helped.

But this weekend I've been getting into it. Albeit briefly. And there's been a musical theme. Be Kind Rewind was brilliant. And moving. But then its Michel Gondry so I wouldn't expect anything less. And vaguely about Fats Waller.

Last night we did the superb double feature of Pete Seegar : The Power of Song and Anvil : The Story of Anvil. After watching the last minutes of the All Blacks demolishing Australia, watched the Nick Drake doco A Skin Too Few on DVD.

And, for the record (cos I know you care), I've also seen review copies of Patti Smith : Dream of Life and The Cool School on DVD, and I Just Didn't Do It. Reviews may make it online sometime but that's not my call.

Three quite different docos about three quite different artists. But all well worth seeing. For quite different reasons. And regardless of musical taste.

So yeah, I've been doing stuff. Like real regular type jobs. And ignoring this blog. It's funny how easily it slips when I get busy. This weekend has been marking first assignments. I was dreading it, but it's not too bad really. We'll see what happens when they get their results though.

And the photo has nothing to do with anything. I just saw it again and decided to throw it in cos it's kinda cool, but sloppily composed. The very thing we tell our students off for.